Saturday 11 June 2011

The Central Monitoring System (CMS) Of India

The central monitoring system (CMS) is a centralised mechanism that can assist in lawful interception of communications from landline, mobile and Internet. Although it can be used only if there is a lawful interception law in India yet it seems to have been tested recently without any lawful interception law in India at place.

For a constitutionally sound lawful interception law, there must a well defined law with constitutional safeguards to protect its abuses. India has no constitutionally sound lawful interception law at present.

According to Praveen Dalal, a Supreme Court Lawyer and leading Techno Legal Expert of India, one of the laws that require an immediate repeal is the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. It is the most abused law of India when it comes to Phone Tapping and Illegal Surveillance. The fact and truth is that India does not have a Legal and Constitutionally Sound Phone Tapping and E-Surveillance Law.

So much so that phone tapping in India is done by private individual that also without any authorisation and on the basis of forged documents. There is no mechanism through which these private individuals can be held responsible for illegal phone tapping in India. In fact, to a greater extent these private individuals are actively encouraged by Indian government to engage in phone tapping by not enacting sufficient and stringent laws in this regard.

After strong protests and constant demands for lawful interception law in India, Indian government has given some hints that guideline in this would be issued very soon. However, mere guidelines under the Telegraph Act are not sufficient and nothing short of a constitutionally sound lawful interception law would be enough to make the CMS legal and constitutional.

The present phone tapping, e-surveillance, interceptions, website blocking, Internet censorship, etc are done in an unconstitutional and undemocratic manner in India. This is despite what Indian government claims.

The matter is pending before the Supreme Court of India and it would be a good opportunity to declare the Telegraph Act unconstitutional so that the government may be forced to enact a constitutionally sound law in this regard.

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